This series is submitted by Star Trek Adventures Uber-Fan Daniel Li
Episode 1×2 “Plato’s Cave”
By Marco Rafala
From Strange New Worlds
Airdate: April 24, 2022
USS Eagle arrived in orbit of Fosstarian II to relieve the Lexington, bringing a diplomatic corps team to establish a Federation embassy on the planet and delivering Lexington’s remaining crew complement, including the new first officer, Commander Athytti sh’Shane.
What began as a routine mission to resupply the UESPA science station on the surface of Tanghal IV quickly got complicated. Athytti and Sabin’s mentor, Jannick Stolz, and his team of 7 showed no life signs from orbit, and there was no response to communications channels. The science station also had recently built an addition over a seed vault discovered buried in the crust next to a nuclear missile silo left by a 10,000-year-old extinct civilization. The Lexington sent down an away team of Athytti, Sabin, Thalon, Ter’Rec, Dr. Grelox, Chief Dwayne, and Ensign Bagheera. The away team chose to fly down in a shuttlecraft rather than beaming, with Ter’Rec piloting and setting down uneventfully.
The away team found the science station deserted and desolate, with the reactor offline and life support non-functional. They found the frozen corpse of Stolz in the control room and a dead engineer in the infirmary. Stolz had recorded a strange message, which the team did not understand. The away team decided to focus on restoring power to the main reactor, which Ter’Rec and Bagheera were able to do after beaming down 203-R consoles from the Lexington to replace the damaged ones on the station. The fit wasn’t great, as the hardware on the station was not built to Starfleet standard specifications, but they managed to get it working, and life support came back online. The doors from the science station to the missile silo opened on their own.
At this point, a tracked security drone entered the reactor room and fired a few shots from its machine gun at Thalon before the weapon jammed. Thalon blasted the drone with his phaser, disabling it.
The away team began to hear strange whispering voices coming over the intercom system and, underneath them, a child’s voice crying. They followed the sound of the crying to the missile silo, where Sabin discovered a fail-safe mechanism: any attempt to tamper with the power cables feeding the seed vault and missile silo would overload the fusion reactor, destroying the station.
The away team walked through the seed vault to the missile silo, finding themselves in the middle of an ancient survival shelter built into the silo. They took the lift to the control center and found a recorded advertisement for the vault created by Tanner Cole, an eccentric entrepreneur who built the vault and sold the 100 spots inside to the highest bidders as the planet’s ice age and extinction event neared. Cole’s private lab was located on level 5 and required a security key to access.
There were only two copies: one for Cole and one for the security chief. The team took the lift to security on level 2 to look for the key. Three security drones intercepted them, but again the machine gun jammed after a few rounds, and Athytti closed to melee range and smashed one of them with her Ushaan-tor blade. The other two drones rotated to target her and then abruptly shut down. The voices apologized, saying the drones don’t always obey them, and invited the away team to the infirmary to have any wounds treated, before exploding into villainous laughter.
Finding the security key, the away team did not take the invitation to the infirmary, instead proceeding at once to level 5. There they found a massive quantum computer with biobeds around it, and the remaining five members of the science team lying dead on those biobeds with their skulls split open and neural transfer devices connecting them to the quantum computer core. Sabin pieced together what happened: the 100 or so people in Cole’s vault uploaded their conscious minds into the quantum server. Stasis pods in the room beyond suggest they hoped to one day return to their bodies. However, the stasis chambers malfunctioned long ago, trapping them in the server for millennia as they merged into an insane machine consciousness.
The machine consciousness claimed to have control of the Lexington, holding the ship and crew hostage to force the away team to submit to invasive procedures to download its mind into their bodies. Brief communication with Captain Birdsong confirmed this. To prove its point, the machine consciousness imitated Athytti’s voice to order Counselor Aisha to beam down from the ship. Disarmed and herded into a security cage, the away team managed to bluff the machine consciousness into giving access to the quantum computer on the pretext of figuring out how to separate their many minds prior to downloading. However, Athytti and Ter’Rec were thoroughly stumped by this prospect and determined that it was impossible.
An alternative presented itself when Aisha made contact with a boy’s consciousness, which had somehow remained separate within the server, and used a text console in the security area to contact them. Bagheera and Sabin were able to isolate the boy in a backup server, using it as a safe haven for him, and Dr. Grelox and Sabin determined that in fact, he could exist outside the quantum computer. The boy escaped to freedom in a ball of blue lightning, disabling the security drones briefly on his way out. Thalon and Bagheera grabbed their phasers and blasted the quantum computer to smithereens before the drones could come back online. Bagheera’s phaser was overloaded due to his overclocking it to inflict maximum damage, and he was severely wounded. Also, destroying the computer triggered the failsafe and the entire structure collapsed.
In the nick of time, the Lexington, its systems back online, beamed the away team to safety, as well as Jannick Stolz—the boy managed to return his mind and restore his body to life, since unlike the others he had been dead only a few hours, and the transporter chief noticed his life sign and grabbed him too. The Lexington monitored the boy’s new form, a ball of blue energy, leaving the Tanghal system at warp speed, transmitting a final message: “Thank you.”
Although Dr. Grelox and Dr. Jorus managed to stabilize Bagheera upon arrival in sickbay, his extensive injuries will require attention in a shore facility to rehabilitate. The Lexington is en route to Risa where Savo City Central Hospital, with its state-of-the-art burn center, is ready to receive him. No doubt it will also take some time for a clean scrub of the Lexington computer too, to remove any trace of the machine consciousness and its control. Time for some shore leave, perhaps?
Geoff: Ter’Rec, Athytti
Fred: Sabin, Aisha
Jeremy: Thalon, Bagheera
Peter: Dr. Grelox, Chief Dwayne
Modular laboratory focus: botany
Crew support used: 4 + 1 Threat
Lexington damage: 0
Casualties: 1 wounded
Shuttlecraft destroyed: 1
On the next Star Trek Adventures…
1×3 “Drawing Deeply from the Well”
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My group is playing this just now! While transporting passengers to a nearby Starbase, they intended to drop Jannick Stoltz’s lab technician off at his new post. Then the scary horror started!